Keeping the Christmas Spirit All Year Long

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I’m a sucker for Christmas. The music, the lights, the elves dancing everywhere my eyes can see. And the deeper things. The family. The celebration. The moments of warm joy in frozen landscapes.

As a child, Christmas for me meant a few days of tradition that we followed religiously, year in and year out. On December 24, after Christmas Eve church service, we’d invite our closest family friends to our house for dinner. The dinner was great — but the entertainment was better. For hours, us kids would work to put on a (lengthy) Christmas skit. When it was time to showcase our work, our parents, bless their hearts, watched every excruciating minute of our disastrous drama. We then traded a few gifts, went to sleep, and woke to Santa’s cookie crumbs on the plate we left.

On Christmas Day — replete with Christmas Coffee Cake — it was more presents, a day-long dinner with friends, and then a quick pack to spend a few days skiing. As a child, this is what I longed for each and every year. As an adult, my own family is now working hard to make our own traditions, with the hope that, in the years to come, my own kids will remember fondly the days surrounding the holidays as time of peace, joy, and family-filled Christmas spirit.

Importantly, though, living in the Christmas spirit is not just something you and I are fortunate enough to try our hand at come December. In reality, that Christmas spirit is something we can cultivate all year long. Here are seven things I’m doing this Christmas that I hope I’ll continue throughout the year.

Come join me on the journey.

 

  • Rest 1 of 7
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    If there's only one thing you get to on your Christmas list this holiday season, let it be this: Rest. Your body needs a holiday season of rest and rejuvenation to take on the coming year, and you deserve a break. Try as much as possible to rest, disconnect, and enjoy -- with a treat in hand, and a beautiful view to look at. And, remember, this holiday gift isn't just good in December. Try to bring in the concept of rest to each and every month of 2014. This Christmas, and this coming year, I'll be doing just that.

  • Spend Time With Those You Love 2 of 7
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    The Christmas season forces us to spend time with friends and family, and it's a good thing. No -- a great thing. Most of us don't spend enough time with those we love during the year, so the holiday season helps us get the "fix" we need. But as you embrace the friends and family you're with this December, make a decision to not let those great folks slip away during the rest of the year. Work to hold them close during the holidays, and then throughout the year. 

  • Reflect on the Past Year and Plan for the Year Ahead 3 of 7
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    The holiday season is the perfect time to take a step back and think about where you went in 2013, and where you want to go in 2014. Take an hour (or an afternoon) and take pen to page (warm egg nog in hand, I recommend) and journal about what you learned and accomplished in the past year, and what you hope to achieve in 2014.

    Think outside the box - it's not just about career, but about the important personal lessons you learned along the way. When you're done, you'll hopefully feel revived to start 2014, and also motivated to continue this practice on a more regular -- maybe even monthly - basis in 2014. 

  • Create 4 of 7
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    During the Christmas season, more of us actually create than we do at other times during the year. Whether it's the decoration of a beautiful tree or package, the cooking of a beautiful holiday dinner, or the hard work of making a homemade gift, we push ourselves to use our creativity in a way that we often forget throughout the rest of the year. Take a cue from the creativity you use during December and think about bringing in this spirit of creation into your life during the other 11 months -- your spirit will thank you!

  • Notice the Small Things 5 of 7
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    We're all guilty of forgetting to notice the small beauties around us. Thankfully, Christmas is a time where we often remember to look at some of these small wonders. This December, work hard to see if you bring this new ability to see them in the rest of your year. I'll be doing just that. 

  • Make Home a Happy Place 6 of 7
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    During Christmas, we value our homes in a way we often don't throughout the rest of the year. We lovingly clean, decorate, and fill them with the people and baubles that make up a happy Christmas. This year, I'll be working on not only making my home a great place for the holidays, but in thinking about how I can make sure the sparkle stays throughout the year. 

  • Broaden Your Horizons 7 of 7
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    We often think of the holidays as just a time to be in our safe cocoon, and don't realize the potential to broaden our horizons at this time of year. Is there a great place you can travel to? A new dish you can try whipping up this December? A new guest you can invite to the Christmas table? This Christmas I'll be pushing myself to go one step further to do that new thing -- the thing that broadens my horizons. Then, come January, I'll keep at it the whole year long;)

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